The written article is based on a summary of existing literature on the topic of infrared saunas. The article is for educational purposes and the information provided below cannot be taken as a promise to help with acute health problems or diseases. 37 references back the claims in the article. All references are numbered. You can access the text of the reference by clicking on the number.
So let me introduce you to the topic of red LED light. First up, let’s start with some definitions:
What Is Light Therapy? And What Is Red Light Therapy?
Let’s talk about light therapy, specifically red light therapy. Red light therapy is a form of light therapy. Other forms of light therapy exist, such as infrared saunas and tanning beds and red light therapy is just one of them.
Let’s explore that red light therapy in more detail - nowadays, red light therapy mainly uses LEDs, at least for consumer products:
What Is Red LED Light Therapy? And How Does It Relate To Low-Level Laser Therapy And Red LED Light?
Let’s first start with a detour. For many decades, lasers were the main method of applying red light therapy (1; 2; 3). You’d apply a laser to a wound or to a painful joint or tendon, and the healing process would speed up. Since the 2000s, however, LEDs' price has decreased dramatically.
LEDs are “Light Emitting Diodes” that can be engineered to emit particular types of light. So, you can make LEDs that put out blue light, for instance, or green or red light. And, within red light therapy, LEDs are used that put out both red and near-infrared light. Lasers are also still used in medical settings but are less critical in this article because you can’t readily use them as a consumer.
Red LED light, on the other hand, is different from red light therapy in that it uses red light only, so no near-infrared. So even though both therapies sound similar, they’re not. We’re using these red LED lights in our chromotherapy that have been added to all our infrared saunas.
Next up, let’s consider some of the red LED benefits:
Benefits Of Red LED Light And Near-Infrared Light Treatment
So, what are the benefits of a Red LED light treatment? Well, the red light doesn't just hit the skin. Instead, the light penetrates the human body and has biological effects there. In your cells, for instance, red light can enhance energy production through several mechanisms (4; 5; 6). That increase in energy production occurs because the light affects your “mitochondria” - the powerhouses of your cell. The end products of food are used by your cells, after digestion, but light also allows your cells to increase their energy production.
Secondly, red LED light and also greatly affects inflammation across the body (7; 8; 9; 10). Excessive inflammation levels are not only intertwined with many modern-day disease states (heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes) but also with lower energy production. Once you lower inflammation, energy production shoots up.
The increase in energy production because of red LED light, in turn, has significant effects on overall health. Here’s a short list of red LED light's benefits (11; 12; 13; 14; 15; 16; 17; 18: 19: 20; 21; 22; 23; 24: 25):
Enhanced wound healing
Better hair growth and countering hair loss
Decreasing skin roughness by increasing collagen and elastin production in the skin
Boosting your energy levels
More muscle built and more significant fat loss
Decreases in overall disease risk
Better mood and lower depression and anxiety risk
Improved cognitive function
Enhanced joint health
And that’s just a short list of the red LED light and treatment effects. Right now, 1,500-2,000+ studies have been published on red LED therapy (26). These studies only regard red light, so not near-infrared light. And 85%+ of these studies show positive effects. So there’s lots of scientific evidence on the effects of red LED light.
Then let’s consider how Clearlight integrates that revolutionary red LED light into its products:
Both chromotherapy options are used inside our infrared saunas and can be used simultaneously during your sauna sessions. Hence, you don’t need to take extra time out of your day to apply these therapies.
Let’s now explore that options in more detail and what wavelengths you can apply next to red LED light:
Clearlight® Medical-Grade Chromotherapy
Our medical-grade chromotherapy uses three lights in total. That light is measured in “nm”. The chromotherapy inside the sauna uses 660nm for red light, 540nm for green light, and 405nm for blue light.
By combining these colours, you arrive at the secondary colours. So, yellow light can be created by combining red and green. Purple or violet light can be created by combining red and blue. And orange can be created by combining green and blue. You can also vary the settings for each light output, with a brighter option and a more dull option.
The chromotherapy is located in the infrared sauna ceiling, above the place where you are seated. The light thus emits into your eyes and on your head during your sauna sessions. That way, chromotherapy affects your biology. Several mechanisms exist by which chromotherapy affects your biology.
First, the light enters your eyes. Different types of light have different effects here. Blue light, for instance, tells your brain and body that it’s daytime and time to wake up. So, it’s wisest to use blue light during the morning and afternoon, not at night before you go to sleep. Red light chromotherapy has a calming and healing effect on the brain and eyes. So you can use red light at nighttime as well.
All our infrared saunas are equipped with chromotherapy, except for the portable sauna. The Essential Range and Premier Range are equipped with standard chromotherapy with 15 LEDs. The Sanctuary Range and Outdoor Range are equipped with 96 LEDs of medical-grade chromotherapy. Medical-grade chromotherapy also allows for more colours of light to be emitted than the ones I described earlier.
Next up, let’s consider how this red LED light can affect you psychologically:
Psychological Effects Of Red LED Light
There’s also some science on the psychological effects of red LED lights (32; 33; 34; 35). Blue is often associated with openness, for instance, green with nature and health, and white with purity and cleanliness. Red light, moreover, is associated with energy and enthusiasm.
Rigorous scientific investigations of the effects of colours still need to be developed. Nevertheless, everyone knows that colours play a major role in our lives. For instance, you probably notice that the colours used in interior design or architecture have a huge effect on how you perceive your environment. And colours also have a significant impact on the clothes you wear or accessories.
In the same way, you can find many internet sources on how many individuals interpret the colour red. Red can be related to attention and even danger in some cases, for instance, or emotion, romanticism, and love. Red is also related to the heart, taking risk, and taking control. But, colours also mean very different things to different people.
Nevertheless, red light also has many biological effects that have been scientifically established. These effects are non-psychological but affect your body directly, such as on the cellular level. Below I’ve added a few examples of such effects:
Example 1: Red Light For Skin: Wrinkles, Wounds, Ulcers And More
So, first, let’s consider red LED light for skin health. Dozens of studies have been published on this topic, but I’ll consider some of the most essential publications here (26; 27; 28; 29; 30; 31).
Here, red light increases blood flow in the skin. Blood flow typically decreases as you age, thereby leading to skin problems. Red light also inhibits inflammation, which increases with age and makes your skin look puffier.
Other mechanisms by which red light works for the skin are enhancing collagen and elastin production. Elastin makes your skin supple and elastic, as the name already implies, and collagen tightens your skin so it doesn’t sag. Collagen and elastin levels in the skin also go down with age, which is then (partially) reversed when you apply red light over time.
Many different wavelengths of red have skin health benefits. The most essential wavelengths here are the 630nm and 660nm red wavelengths. As a result, wrinkles, fine lines, age spots, and even hyperpigmentation are affected by red LED light for skin health.
The chromotherapy included in our saunas will also give you these benefits. Chromotherapy mainly affects your brain and face, and part of your upper body. Secondly, let’s talk about another vital topic:
Example 2: Red Light For Face
Many red LED light devices for face devices have hit the market lately. These are specialised beauty products that cost thousands of Pounds, face masks with LEDs or even lasers priced at a couple of hundred pounds, and LED panels for the face.
And all these products offer slightly different light therapy exposure. Most use red LED lights, but sometimes blue, violet, and near-infrared are also included. Suffice it to say that, for the best results, you’ll want some red LED lights projecting at your face. Blue, violet, and near-infrared additions are lovely but not strictly necessary. Why? Red light has unparalleled effects for skincare, and the face stands out in that domain.
With light therapy for the face, people report less redness, a leaner face (as red LED light leads to fat loss), reduced dark circles or bags around the eyes, firmer skin with less wrinkles, and even more brightness in the face. Age spots and skin texture will also improve.
Most people experience benefits after a few weeks of treatment. So, the effect of red light for face beauty isn’t immediate. You will eventually get results by using the chromotherapy inside the Clearlight® infrared saunas.
Below, I’ll consider some of the most frequently asked questions about red LED therapy:
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Many people are sceptical originally and ask, “Does red LED therapy actually work”. And some of these results seem too good to be true in many cases. Of course, no promises can be made here as results vary from person to person. But overall, the results of red light have been excellent.
And, 2,000+ scientific studies published over the last few decades verify that red light actually works. And these studies have investigated a wide array of different conditions, such as sports performance, sleep quality, hormonal health, inflammation, well-being (lower anxiety and depression risk), countering joint pain (osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis), and much more.
So, yes, red light works and works well. If you’re sceptical, I recommend visiting a spa near your house. Many spas offer red light. That way, you can try red light before purchasing a product.
Is It OK To Sleep With Red LEDs?
Yes, it’s OK to sleep with red light, depending on the context. Many people use red LEDs at nighttime. The benefit is that the red LEDs don’t signal to your brain that it’s daytime.
Those red LEDs, contrary to blue LEDs, allow the melatonin levels in your brain to rise. The result is that you fall asleep quicker, stay asleep, and have higher sleep quality.
For red light, specifically, I recommend experimenting with it. Some people can have intense red light at their skin an hour before bedtime and sleep fine. Others find the red light too stimulating and experience lower sleep quality.
You don’t want to use intense red light at nighttime, though - you can use red light as background lighting during the night.
What Does Red LED Light Do For Skin?
As stated before, red light has massive benefits for the skin. First, red light increases collagen and elastin production in the skin. Collagen makes your skin firm and tight and elastin makes it more elastic—the combination of elastin and collagen results in more youthful skin.
Many people state that they look much younger after using red light or that friends and family have made such comments. Fortunately, there are also dozens if not hundreds of scientific studies showing that red LED light for the skin works. And, many medical light therapy applications use red LEDs and other LEDs such as blue light for skin improvement. Combining different light colours has the best effects, even though red light already has potent skin health effects.
Can Red LED Lights Be Used As Red Light Therapy?
Red LED lights and red light therapy are two different things. Red LED lights emit red light only, and in red light therapy, there’s a combination of red and near-infrared light.
The only similarity here is that both therapies are based on LEDs. So that’s where the confusion comes in. You won’t get the full benefits of red light therapy by using red LEDs only, as the former also includes near-infrared benefits.
Nevertheless, red lights only - such as with LEDs - still have massive health effects. I described many of these effects above, such as for skincare, facial appearance, your energy levels, and more.
What Does Red Light Do For Your Face?
The face is one of the most frequent reasons people purchase a red LED light device. And, for the face, there are ample benefits of red LED therapy. Examples here are less fine lines and wrinkles. A decrease in circles around the eyes is another benefit. You may also see increases of brightness of the skin and reductions in redness.
Nowadays, there are specialised masks that you wear offering red light for the face therapy. However, wearing a mask is a bit cumbersome and looks weird and alternatives are generally better. Using chromotherapy in your sauna is one way to have less wrinkles, redness, fine lines, and dark circles without walking around like you’re crazy.
And I also advise against buying a red light for the face only when you can buy a product that treats the entire body. So, yes, red light for the face works, but it’s better to focus on a full-body approach so that all your bodily tissues benefit.
Can I Use Red Light On My Face Everyday?
Yes, you can use red light on your face every day. In fact, for the best results, you’ll want to use red light at least four to five times per week.
The results are also cumulative. So, the more frequently you use red therapy, the better the results will be, especially over a longer time. However, I do recommend taking one or two days off per week from red therapy for the best results.
Also, for the easiest results, just make red therapy part of your daily routine. For instance, if you’ve got a sauna routine, you can just use chromotherapy in there and get red light exposure on your face.
How Often Should You Use Red Light On Your Face?
Use red therapy on your face five to six days per week for the best results. Both more frequent and less frequent sessions generally lead to inferior results.
Also, for skin health benefits, you don’t want an exposure that’s too intense. Intense red light is excellent for treating deeper tissues but leads to an overload of more superficial tissues, such as the skin.
You can envision overdosing on red light as doing too much exercise. While some exercise is good, more is not always better. If you exercise for four hours a day, seven days a week, your health eventually suffers.
Does Red Light Skin Really Work?
Absolutely, red light works. We’ve talked about the thousands of red light studies and the anecdotal evidence of people whose lives were changed by it. Also, if you’re sceptical, I recommend visiting a spa that has a red light setup. Many clinics combined blue and red light, for instance, for cosmetic purposes.
The only downside here is that for skin health benefits, you’ll generally have to use more frequent treatments over a few weeks. For other benefits, such as muscle recovery or pain, many people experience results after just one session.
After about four to six sessions per week, many people experience the skin health benefits of red light after around two weeks. So, experiment, and you’ll likely experience benefits!
What Do Doctors Say About Red LED Therapy?
More and more, the medical establishment is warming up to the effects of red LED therapy. Many people are simply unaware of red lights effects, even in the medical industry. And yet, some trendsetting physical therapists, osteopaths, chiropractors, anaesthetists, and other fields have started implementing red light into their practice in the United Kingdom.
And, not only is red LED light used for cosmetic reasons, it also has many of the healing properties I talked about earlier in this blog post.
What Are Red LED Light Pros And Cons?
The red light pros are straightforward: the therapy is generally non-invasive unless lasers are used. So, with LEDs, you can easily apply red light to the skin and get benefits. Also, the benefit is that red light works for many applications, as I’ve mentioned earlier.
There are some red light cons, though. First up, in rare cases, side effects occur. People with (chronic) health conditions, for instance, may feel tired after a red LED light treatment - in that case, it’s wise to lower the exposure time.
Secondly, if you’ve got cancer, you have to talk to your physician before using red light, as it may cause the spread of cancer to other tissues.
In case of cancer, some experts believe that red light can potentially spread them throughout the body (36; 37). Opinions are starting to slowly shift on this topic, though, but to ensure safety, consult your doctor before using red light directly on a (suspected) tumour.
Upgrade Your Sauna Experience With Red Chromotherapy
I hope you enjoyed the red light therapy revolution with red LED light as much as I did! As you can see, the therapy has almost all-encompassing effects for any health situation. In that regard, it’s similar to exercise or following a good diet - your health becomes better across the board.
And, I’m incredibly excited about this trend. People who use red LED lights today for therapeutic purposes are trendsetters in the health industry. Consider yourself blessed in that regard, as I fully expect this therapy to be applied much more broadly in society in the coming years and decades.